You are cutting string. The wind is coming through the buildings. I am touching myself. I am not alone and you are sleeping in another city. In this story I am really fucking mad. You say YOU ARE BEING A GOOD PERSON TODAY but I’m not really being a good person. I say I AM GOING STEADY. The lights are dark. It’s daytime, we’re all really drunk but it’s only in this story. I say IT’S ONLY A FEW MINUTES UNTIL THE NEXT CITY. I say IN THIS STORY YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE MORE VIOLENT. It’s really a story about a person you want to kill. You are not cutting string and there is no knife. The tablecloths are stained. This city is another story.
Thomas Patrick Levy with Lynn Melnick, Corey Zeller, and Amanda Zubillaga
with Corey Zeller, Lynn Melnick, Robert Ostrom, and Christie Ann Reynolds.
These hills are so old that my fall is soft and long. I touch the years in my throat. I touch my head against your belly. This is mostly your fault. The rivers are the same rivers that come down your neck and spine. These hills were made for you to come apart between. I move as fast as I can but I’m very worried. These hills were made for river, these hills were made for goats. My touch is made to make you warm but instead you are much like stone. Your sleeping bag is not something like a tomb. The windows are fogged but not for the right reasons. The rivers run all night, I can hear them over the sounds I want to make you make. Everything I say is mostly because of you. That is to say this is mostly your fault. That is to say earthquakes are not nightmares. These hills are not made for goats. These hills are not made for all the years I have to yell.
I am wrinkled and touchy. I keep thinking there are things in the world that I need to do before I die. I keep weeping a bit for no reason. Every mountain is unfathomable. Every mountain is less important as I get closer to the desert. Every moment feels like weak legs. I want to touch you on your legs. I think your legs are the white parts of the mountains. I think your legs are slick with river. I see you are in the clouds. I hold you so hard my fingers go numb. These are mostly your ears. My legs tingle. My heart this same way.
To celebrate Small Press Month, we’re proud to host the sixth annual marathon reading of small press authors, Smallpressapalooza. This year’s lineup features readings by Oregon Book Award finalist Carrie Seitzinger, memoirists Lindsey Kugler and Chloe Caldwell, zinester Aaron Dactyl (Railroad Semantics), novelist Barry Graham, fiction writers Nancy Rommelmann, Janey Smith, and Jeremy Robert Johnson, and poets W. Vandoren Wheeler, Thomas Patrick Levy, Mindy Nettifee, Donald Dunbar, and Susan Denning. Hosted by Powell’s small press champion, Kevin Sampsell.
Smallpressapalooza Lineup: March 18, 2013
6:00 Carrie Anna Seitzinger Fall Ill Medicine
6:15 Susan Denning She Preferred to Read the Knives
6:30 Chloe Caldwell Legs Get Led Astray
7:00 W. Vandoren Wheeler The Accidentalist
7:15 Thomas Levy I Don’t Mind If You’re Feeling Alone
7:30 Lindsey Kugler Here
8:00 Barry Graham The Book of Man
8:15 Aaron Dactyl Railroad Semantics 7
8:30 Nancy Rommelmann Transportation
9:00 Donald Dunbar Eyelid Lick
9:15 Mindy Nettifee Glitter in the Blood
9:30 Janey Smith Animals
9:45 Jeremy Robert Johnson We Live Inside You
Your heart is not buried beneath a tree in the yard. There are only three tress in the yard. I tear up the roots of each one. Two are dying. You are not dying. I am only afraid of mountains when I’m standing on the top of them. I can’t move mountains. I can move you. I pick you up because holding you is as near to holding your heart as I can get. There are not enough trees. It smells different. You get smarter every day. I have dirt beneath my fingernails. The dirt smells different. I really really want to find your heart. I look where it smells. I listen.
When you are humming I am trying hard to recognize all these things I’ve been doing wrong. You’re never sad enough. I realize I don’t make eye contact well. I can put so many things up above my head and I think this means I can protect you. Your songs are never around when I need them. Your songs are never bullet proof. I sit down on the couch. I sit down and listen to your problems. I hum along until my body stops reacting. Sometimes it’s all about determination. Sometimes I cough until I puke. Sometimes I can hum through these hurts. It’s a terrible mess. It’s a terrible terrible mess.
This time I am going to make everything make so much sense. This time it is not going to be a dream. Your arms will be wild and I will be touching your shoulders with fingers made of mink. I will be saying I AM NOT ALL ALONE ANYMORE. I will not by lying to you. This time it is going to be a song but you will have forgotten how it goes. It doesn’t matter if you wake up and tell me that it doesn’t make any sense. No matter how many times I try I will write the same thing to you every evening.
In the ground there are so many of your arms. I find them when I go out in the yard to dig with my claws. I find them when I turn on the stereo and the speakers hum that sound you like to make when I’ve been bad. Sometimes I can’t sleep. I stare at the floor and think THE DOG WILL CHOKE ON ALL YOUR ARMS. There is a moon and the moon has these giant arms that come down and pull out chunks of my hair. I am not afraid of you. I use my arms to pick you up and you are song. For a long time this sort of shit keeps happening. The dog is having a dream. My eyes are closed.
There are always weird little birds chirping in the morning. They are chirping because this is a poem. The sunlight is bright and it’s all up in your hair. Your hair is messy because it’s morning. You’re in your underwear. Your underwear isn’t really that sexy but I don’t care. The birds don’t exist. The neighbors are really quite and I’m not sure they like us. Why don’t our neighbors ever like us. In the morning there are never any birds and I don’t ever see your hair because in the morning my mind doesn’t function comfortably. I see the black and the grey of a dream. I see your sunlit hair. I add a cliche to another cliche. I say YOU NEVER LIKE ME ANYMORE.